How AI startups can set themselves apart

It isn’t enough to have an idea to be unique these days. The process for developing AI models is generic and almost the same as everyone else.

There is also a lack and inability to claim IP on AI models. The legal community is debating who is the inventor of an AI model, whether it is the human or the computer. Most laws lean toward the computer because humans don’t understand or know why the computer designed the model a certain way. Legally getting an IP to a computer, not a human, doesn’t exist. Therefore, getting an IP on an AI model is challenging.

I mean, who wants to invest in an IP for an AI model when the model can change every day with new data? When you receive your patent two years later,  you’ve completely changed everything about your initial idea, the current model you’re using and your business. It isn’t worth spending so much time and money on a patent.

So, without having a patent, how would one stand out from all the seas of businesses that are using AI further to attract investment and other resources to the business?

Think of AI as an enabler

If you think of AI as an enabler to get the results your customers or clients want, then you won’t need to think too much about finding a competitive advantage with AI alone.

Like any business, you can find unique differentiators from:

  • A unique relationship or business partnership
  • A unique processes
  • A better user experience
  • A unique customer base that is underserved
  • The network effect, where you are the connector of people and resources 

These are the common competitive advantages that almost always work for any business, no matter what domain or technology you use. Your goal is to be the go-to for a problem that isn’t solved any better today. 

Here we need to think about how the business can be of competitive advantage rather than the AI system itself.

Data as the new oil

Data is often described as the new oil. Once you have found and mined the data, leveraging the data to bring new products and services to the market can generate a massive competitive advantage. The data is scarce; like oil, there is little to no way to replicate or mine them when the land is all yours. That is why oil companies are able to be highly profitable businesses. 

If you have been collecting data, I mean collecting thousands of data, you may have an advantage. You have data that others may not have access to.

Your unique advantage could be that you’ve got years of a head start with data. Anybody or any organizations that choose to follow and copy you will be behind. You may have been painstakingly collecting data for years internally within your company but now have a purpose and benefit to use.

Sometimes the data you collect is timebound. This type of data can’t give you a competitive advantage. The AI systems need to train and update over time constantly.  For example, applications that address climate change will need new data every minute and hour. Things are constantly changing, so last year’s data may not work for today’s situation.

If we are to use the data from the past, our results and outcome will be vastly different. 

It’s okay if your dataset is not unique. Your business model and how you structure your business surrounding your application using AI will be just as important.